Welcome to The Cross & The Pen, Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column.

Chick lit! Mom lit! Lad lit! It’s a new world in publishing! But, what does it mean, exactly?  A couple of years ago, a good friend called me and said, “Have you heard of Ray Blackston?” I admitted that I had not. “His first novel just came out. You’ve got to read this! It’s very, very good.”

I said I would. And I did. And it was. Then, a year ago, I met Ray at a writer’s conference. I was sitting on a panel, and he was in the audience. When he raised his hand to ask a question, and I realized who he was, I said, “Hey, guy. We should be asking you questions. I want you to know I’m a big fan!”

Recently Ray and I both served on faculty at a writer’s conference and had a chance to get to know each other a little better. We talked about his work, about the world of “lad lit,” and a little of everything else in between. Wanna listen in?

Eva Marie:  Hey, Ray!

Ray:  Howdy, Miss Eva ...

Eva Marie:  So, Ray. Let’s cut to the chase. You’re known for writing “lad lit.” What in the world is “lad lit?”

Ray:  My off the cuff answer is "relational fiction from the male perspective, usually narrated by a single guy."

Eva Marie:  Your first novel was "Flabbergasted" (Revell), which is about a guy (lad), Jay Jarvis, who joins a single’s group to meet women. Where did you get the idea?

Ray:  I had been in a big singles group for eight years. The unpredictable dynamics of such a group just gave me so much fodder for my story. Having a "visitor" narrate the novel gave it the fresh appeal ... the reader gets to see church through un-churched eyes, and relationships from the male point of view.

Eva Marie:  You’ve said that vocation has a lot to do with "lad lit." How’d you set his vocation?

Ray:  It came out of my own experience as a stockbroker. It gives the writer somewhere to "go" after the relational boy/girl scenes.

Eva Marie:  Can you tell me more about the other two books in the series?

Ray:  "A Delirious Summer" is a kind of sequel, with many of the same characters from "Flabbergasted." After Jay does the prologue, the novel is narrated by his Spanish language teacher, "Neil," who comes to Carolina on his summer furlough. I sent him on furlough because I had no experience as a Spanish language teacher. The new novel, "Lost in Rooville," is set largely in the outback, and is the story of one of the single guys trying to plan the most exotic engagement he can think of.